Coronavirus herd immunity unlikely this year, says WHO
January 13 2021 12:30 AM
Valeria Schmidt, nicknamed ‘Teddy Bear Mama’, hugs teddy bears in Harsany, Hungary. The toys are mea
Valeria Schmidt, nicknamed ‘Teddy Bear Mama’, hugs teddy bears in Harsany, Hungary. The toys are meant for children in local nurseries, but the pandemic has meant that the teddy bears have been put in ‘hibernation’.

AFP/Reuters/Internews Geneva

Scientists at the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that mass vaccinations would not bring about herd immunity to the coronavirus this year, even as one leading producer boosted its production forecast.
The Covid-19 respiratory disease is caused by the coronavirus.
Infections numbers are surging around the world, especially in Europe where nations have been forced to ramp up virus restrictions even as vaccines are rolled out.
The WHO’s chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan warned on Monday that it would take time to produce and give enough shots to halt the spread of the virus, which has infected more than 90mn people worldwide with deaths approaching two million.
“We are not going to achieve any levels of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021,” she said, stressing the need to maintain physical distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing.
In the United States, New York City could run out of its Covid-19 vaccine stock “by the end of next week”, Mayor Bill de Blasio told journalists yesterday, calling on the federal government and laboratories to prevent a dearth of doses.
“The federal structure is going way too slow in terms of getting vaccine to us,” de Blasio said, echoing similar criticisms levelled by President-elect Joe Biden.
In Russia, a woman who was admitted to hospital heavily pregnant and with what doctors said were potentially fatal levels of Covid-19 lung damage was reunited with her newborn baby after spending 51 days on a ventilator and giving birth by C-section.
Oksana Shelomentseva was hospitalised in the Siberian city of Irkutsk in the 32nd week of her pregnancy, having had a high fever for three days.
A scan showed catastrophic lung damage and that her unborn baby was not receiving enough oxygen.
“My temperature rose to 38° Celsius and I battled with it for three days, but it became clear I could not do that independently,” Shelomentseva said.
Doctors immediately performed a Caesarean section to deliver baby girl Liza, but still feared for the recovery of the mother who went on to spend almost two months on a ventilator to help her breathe.
Shelomentseva was discharged on Monday and returned home to her husband and three children, including baby Liza.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked European Union countries for more help in procuring coronavirus vaccines after his government resisted turning to Russia for assistance.
The pandemic has killed more than 20,000 Ukrainians and plunged one of Europe’s poorest countries into recession last year.
Ukraine has agreed to buy some vaccines from China and also expects to secure some under the global Covax programme for poorer countries.
But it has dismissed calls from a Russian-leaning opposition leader to buy vaccines from Russia.
The neighbours are estranged over Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.
“Today, for all countries of the Eastern Partnership initiative, in particular Ukraine and Moldova, the issue of obtaining vaccines is important,” Zelenskiy said in a televised statement while hosting Moldovan President Maia Sandu in Kyiv. “The countries of the Eastern Partnership should be given increased attention by the EU states in matters of joint procurement procedures and accelerating the supply of vaccines.”
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has told lawmakers in her conservative party that she expects a lockdown in Germany to curb the spread of the coronavirus to last until the start of April, top-selling Bild daily cited participants at the meeting as saying.
“If we don’t manage to stop this British virus, then we will have 10 times the number of cases by Easter. We need eight to 10 more weeks of tough measures,” Bild quoted Merkel as saying.
Three participants of the meeting told Reuters that Merkel had not explicitly spoken of an extension of the lockdown until April and that she had not warned of a ten-fold increase in infection numbers in Germany.
“Merkel said the coming eight to ten weeks would be very hard if the British variant spreads to Germany,” one of the people said, adding the chancellor had referred to a ten-fold surge in infection numbers in Ireland due to the new variant.
In the United Kingdom, police will get tougher on those who flout rules aimed at stopping the spread of Covid-19 and stricter measures could be brought in, the country’s top officer and the minister responsible for policing said yesterday.
The capital’s police chief Cressida Dick, the country’s most senior officer, said that officers would take tougher action to enforce lockdown rules amid concern that some people were continuing to ignore the measures to limit social mixing.
“It is preposterous to me that anyone could be unaware of our duty to do all we can to stop the spread of the virus,” Dick wrote in the Times newspaper. “We have been clear that those who breach Covid-19 legislation are increasingly likely to face fines.”
In Pakistan, more than 13,000 healthcare workers have been infected with the novel coronavirus across the country since the pandemic hit late February.
Data issued by the National Command and Operations Centre (NCOC) showed that up until January 11, 2021, at least 13,053 medics have contracted the deadly virus, the majority (60%) of which are doctors. Paramedics and other staff make up for 26% and nurses 14%.
A total of 113 healthcare workers have died.

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